The term sound design relates to the act of creating your own sounds, whether it be a song, sound effects, or editing a waveform. Sound designers specialize in creating custom sounds to your desired taste.
Our generation is making incredible advancements in technology, both for our everyday lives and also in our workplaces. One upside may be that it’s easier for people to do certain things, like how game designers have more and more support in their career. Except, just like everything, it has its downsides. One that I’ve noticed in my line of work is a decline in the usage of custom sound design.
Years ago, I was accepted into a school dedicated to those gifted in arts where I studied contemporary music, learned music theory, and practiced the guitar, drums, and piano. I picked sound design up right before I started middle/secondary school as an interest and, in the 5 years that I’ve been teaching myself sound design, I have since gained attention from artists like ill.Gates, ANSON, and Loveless for my production. At the age of 16, I’m now working on my first album release as an independent artist! I’ve also been blessed with the opportunity to help other designers one-on-one from a private group dedicated to the Roblox sound design community, which I started. But in the years I have been working on the platform, I have personally experienced a downfall in the utilization of sound designers.
For thousands upon thousands of years, sounds have been a vital aspect of entertainment — in fact, the history of the first known instrument dates back to 40,000 years ago! It’s important to have an understanding of how long music has been around before diving into the present state of sound design. Archaeologists discovered flutes from the Upper Paleolithic Era in a cave in modern-day Germany called Geißenklösterle. The flutes they found were carved from bird bones and are the earliest recorded instrument archeologists have ever found. However, it’s more than likely that the human voice was indeed the first instrument.
The oldest documentation of a written composition dates back to about 3,400 years ago. Humerian Hymn no. 6, written by Sumerians, is the earliest written song that archeologists have been able to uncover. In 1883, a man by the name of Sir W.M. Ramsay discovered lyrics inscribed onto a tombstone in a small town in Turkey, that had once been a part of Ancient Greece. The lyrics translate into English as:
“While you live, shine.
Have no grief at all.
Life exists only for a short while.
And time demands an end.”
And below the lyrics was a melody.
This song is commonly referred to as Seikilos Epitaph, the first lyrical song found in history. The writing of Seikilos Epitaph is estimated to have been from sometime between 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. But, would you believe the first recorded song was captured on a phonautograph in 1860? That’s right, over 160 years ago humans began to experiment with and successfully harness technology to record audio!
(You can listen to the haunting melody here)
It’s honestly amazing when you consider of the 40,000 years that music has been a part of our cultures, it was only 160 years ago that we were finally able to advance technology enough to finally record the sounds we create.
We’re in the modern era. Our technology is more advanced than ever before. People can use file grabbers and converters to download anything they want off of the internet, and websites like Splice, Epidemic Sound, Sound Stripe, and Adobe offer access to thousands of free sound effects and music. Anyone can sign up, and anyone can use their sounds.
There’s no doubt that everyone has thought “Why do this, when I can just do that?” at some point in their lives.
Sound designers are trained professionals who specialize in creating practically anything involving sound. Crafting sound effects, composing music, and editing waveforms are all jobs that sound designers are equipped to do.
Sounds are involved in our day-to-day lives: the sound of your breath, the footsteps you hear when you walk, or the rustle of wind stirring the leaves on a tree branch. In entertainment, sound gives depth and emotion to what the creator is trying to achieve and what they want the audience to experience. Movies use very quiet noises to make the experience fuller to their audience. Games use sound to give the experience originality and to help inform the player.
To me, a game is not complete with only the visuals. To truly deliver a 3D experience, both the visuals and sounds need to work together to create a fully immersive experience. Driving games need the engine revving sound. Shooter games need gunshots. Horror games need an eerie ambiance.
Mortal Kombat, a classic arcade fighting game, is an important example of an experience that is made better with sound. Everything inside of the game is connected to a unique sound effect that fits perfectly with the over-the-top visual effects — every bone-breaking move in the game is accompanied by its gut-wrenching sound. Mortal Kombat set out to shock and enthrall players with both its visual and sound design, which I believe is a huge part of why the game’s sound clips, such as the infamous “Round 1, fight!” dialogue, are still quoted to this day.
Sound design is far more important than people realize. With all of our technological advances, these sound specialists are no longer hired as much as they were years ago. To make a game completely immerse its players, you need to have sounds that don’t just line up with your visuals, but that are designed to allow the player to fully experience what you wanted them to. Sound designers don’t just make sounds, we use our imagination to make a player’s experience feel real.
Allow us to bring your creation to life.
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